December 6, 2023
In today’s political environment, major policy decisions are as likely to made in Austin, Columbus, and Sacramento as they are in Washington, DC.
States have always been laboratories for innovative policymaking and in many important issue areas, play a significant role in policy implementation and regulatory decisions. However, persistent gridlock in Congress is turbocharging the stakes at the state level, creating opportunities for governors and state legislators to craft groundbreaking policy long before Washington. While Congress still garners the headlines, the pressure to govern is increasingly shifting towards states.
Altering traditional political dynamics even further, 40 states are now governed by one-party trifectas in the executive and legislative branches. As a result, states are forging their own paths on major issues and legislation can slide through the halls of legislatures, or get buried quietly, on a partisan basis. Legislation can then become a model for other states with a similar partisan makeup or attract a reactionary response from states controlled by the opposite party.
Even closer to home, city and county governments hold enormous sway on issues that affect their communities. After all, local governments make permitting and land use decisions and direct considerable amounts of local, state, and federal dollars. In fact, many federal grant applications now stipulate that entities must conduct extensive community engagement activities as a prerequisite for funding.
These dynamics challenge companies and organizations to play a more proactive role in establishing relationships and building a message beyond the Beltway. Having spent more than a decade working in federal, state and, local government roles across the country, I’ve seen firsthand how successful public affairs campaigns at this level move the needle. The most impactful campaigns recognize the uniqueness of each state and understand the diverse communities and motivations that shape policymaking.
In states, high quality public opinion research can cut through conventional wisdom and create opportunities for data-informed decisions about how communities could respond to an issue or product. Experience with the state’s press corps and media environments can help raise awareness and successfully deliver a message more quickly and accurately. Identifying and activating advocates to testify at hearings, speak at town halls, and make their influential voices heard in the media gives legislators the information they need to represent their communities.
At LSG, we know how to create impact from Concord to Carson City. LSG’s vast experience and network in all 50 states helps companies traverse these challenging local dynamics so they can grow, evolve, and protect their brands and reputations. LSG is also investing in expanding our presence in the Northeast, Mountain West, and Gulf Coast to better assist organizations of all sizes in developing and pressure testing unique messages, activating advocates that can speak to their community’s needs, and communicating in ways that will reach local audiences.
New legislative sessions will begin in states in 2024. It’s never too early to begin planning for how to bolster engagement in state capitals.
Speaker Tip O’Neill’s famous maxim, “All politics is local” is as true today as it ever has been. If you’re interested in learning more about how LSG can help your organization better navigate state and local governments, and develop more resilient brands in states, please contact Brian Parks and Jakob Stewart.